North America

​​​​​​​Missouri Now Requires Employers to Provide Leave and Accommodations for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence

On August 28, 2021, Missouri’s new Victims Economic Safety and Security Act (VESSA) took effect. The statute requires employers with at least 20 employees to provide employees who have experienced domestic or sexual violence with unpaid leave and reasonable safety accommodations. VESSA also requires qualifying employers to comply with employee notice obligations by October 27, 2021. Read more >>

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Video: Biden’s Employer Vaccine Mandate, NY HERO Act Safety Plans, Cannabis Cases – Employment Law This Week

As featured in #WorkforceWednesday:  This week, we focus on Biden’s six-pronged action plan towards combating COVID-19, which requires mandatory vaccination programs for a majority of employers.

Biden Announces Employer Vaccine Mandates

On September 9, President Biden announced that all federal agencies and contractors and employers with 100 or more employees in the private sector must mandate COVID-19 vaccination through a new Occupational Safety and Health Administration-enforced emergency temporary standard. The plan is estimated to impact two-thirds of the country’s workforce. Attorneys Kate Rigby and Adam Tomiak discuss how employers should prepare for compliance. To read more about the President’s plan, click here.

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Tim Gronewold Elected Chair of the Board of the American Red Cross, Central Illinois Region

Peoria, Ill., September 14, 2021 – Royal Oak, Mich.-based Howard & Howard is proud to announce that partner Tim Gronewold has been elected to a two-year term as Chair of the Board of the American Red Cross, serving the Central Illinois Region, following his nomination by the Board Development & Engagement Committee. His term will begin in June of 2022.

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Marijuana Legalization Rundown: Recent Judicial Decisions

As we wrote in our last Marijuana Legalization Rundown, state legislatures across the country have been busy enacting cannabis legalization laws this year.  Along with those laws has come a number of recent court decisions interpreting the application of cannabis legalization laws.  This post summarizes some of the significant decisions issued this year.

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Novel Massachusetts Decision Finds Waiver of Right to Compel Arbitration Based on Pre-Litigation Actions

Many employers are aware that they could waive the ability to enforce an arbitration agreement if they delay moving to compel arbitration until after they have engaged in significant litigation activities in court, such as filing a motion to dismiss or serving discovery requests. However, in Hernandez v. Universal Protection Services, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge found that an employer waived its right to compel arbitration based on its actions before an employee filed suit in court. As Hernandez is novel and significant, employers may want to consider adopting practices to remind employees of their arbitration agreements when it appears that litigation is likely.

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California Appellate Decision Recognizing Manageability Requirements for PAGA Actions May Provide Much Needed Relief to Employers

It is no secret that the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) has been a cash cow for plaintiffs’ counsel in California.

PAGA allows a single employee (and their counsel) to file suit on behalf of other employees for alleged Labor Code violations, without having to go through the class action mechanism.  In other words, a PAGA plaintiff can file suit seeking penalties for hundreds or thousands of employees, yet never need to show that there are common issues susceptible to common proof – or even that their own claims are typical of those of other employees.

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A Draft Regulation Significantly Changes the Duty to Defend in Quebec

By Nick Krnjevic, from our Insurance Law Practice Group

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September 10, 2021 — On September 8, 2021, the Quebec Minister of Finance published in Part 2 of the Official Gazette of Quebec a draft of the regulation [Draft Regulation] that specifies the categories of insurance contracts, and insured parties, that may derogate, in part, from the rules set out in articles 2500 and 2503 of the Civil Code of Quebec [CCQ].

Quebec has always been distinct in that the costs associated to the duty to defend are over and above the policy limits. The draft regulation will allow an insurer to deviate from this in certain circumstances.

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Howard & Howard Expands Michigan Office, Welcomes Dane M. Lepola

Royal Oak, Mich., September 9, 2021 – Howard & Howard is pleased to welcome Dane M. Lepola to the firm. He joins the business litigation group and will practice out of the firm’s Royal Oak office.

“I am a litigator who draws on my experience clerking for a federal judge to help resolve clients’ disputes.” – Dane M. Lepola

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Proposed Massachusetts Law Classifying App-Based Drivers as Independent Contractors Clears First Step of Ballot Initiative Process

On September 1, 2021, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey approved two versions of a ballot initiative (version 1, version 2) concerning the relationship between app-based drivers (such as those who transport passengers or deliver food) and the companies with which they contract. If passed, the ballot initiative will enact the Relationship Between Network Companies and App-Based Drivers Act (the “Act”) and classify such drivers as independent contractors, not employees. It will also require ride-sharing and food-delivery companies to provide them with certain benefits.

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Financial Assistance to Troubled Multiemployer Pension Plans: Initial ARPA Regulation

As we previously reported, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) was signed into law on March 11, 2021, requiring, among other things, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) to issue its implementing regulations by July 9, 2021. As promised, PBGC issued an interim final rule, 86 Fed. Reg. 36598 (July 12, 2021) (the IFR), on a major element of the rescue plan―the Special Financial Assistance Program (SFA)―intended to provide a one-time payment to the estimated 200 most financially troubled multiemployer pension plans to help them survive and pay pensions through 2051. These 200 plans are a subset of the total of approximately 1,400 multiemployer pension plans covered by the ERISA insurance program. The IRS simultaneously issued Notice 2021-38 to provide guidance on how the SFA impacts minimum funding, as well as the reinstatement of certain suspended benefits by plans that receive the SFA.

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